Changes can be made to Sunrise Highway and to North Main Street that will help create economic opportunities and increase pedestrian traffic in downtown Freeport, say traffic advocates.
On Thursday, June 19 street design expert Dan Burden joined Vision Long Island, AARP and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign for a road audit in Freeport. Burden is the executive director of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute.
About a dozen community members and elected officials followed Burden as he walked along the Sunrise Highway corridor in Freeport beginning at South Main Street. He headed east to the Long Island Railroad train station and then up along North Main Street, highlighting flaws in road design but also pointing to the area’s assets.
Sunrise Highway is routinely ranked as one of the most dangerous roadways in the region for walking. According to a Tri-State Transportation Campaign analysis of pedestrian fatality data, from 2010-2012 eight pedestrians were killed along Sunrise highway in Nassau County. Over the same time period, there were 94 crashes between motorists and pedestrians and 32 crashes involving motorists and cyclists along Sunrise Highway.
“There’s lots of traffic and trash. Is this what you want to see every day? Sunrise Highway is your front porch,” said Burden. “Now it is difficult for even able bodied people to cross Sunrise Highway.”
He explained that as you slow traffic and make the street more desirable to walkers (and bikers) you attract more retail business. “If you want to bring up land value and bring in capital investment, you need to go back to the street,” said Burden.
According to Burden traffic lanes larger than 10 feet encourage drivers to speed. Also in Freeport, traffic lights strung diagonally across intersections on North Main Street are too high for drivers to see pedestrians in the road. Unpainted crosswalks and debris along sidewalks also limited walkability, while pedestrian buttons are largely ignored, explained Burden.
On North Main Street Burden pointed to the lack of benches where people could sit or potted plants or trees along the street, which would help to make the area more inviting to walk.